Today is the 2nd annual Blue Beanie Day to promote the awareness of web standards and accessibility. Of course, as a self-professed standardista, I just had to participate.
Join the Cool Kids
The event is the entire day today (November 28), so it isn't too late for you (my four beloved readers) to get involved as well. All you have to do is:
- Get your hands on a Blue Beanie (blue hat or cap; black or grey is acceptable).
- Take a photo of yourself wearing the Blue Beanie.
- Add your photo to the Flickr Blue Beanie Day group.
- Switch your Facebook profile photo to your new Blue Beanie picture (and maybe your other social network profiles if you want to get really crazy).
- Promote Blue Beanie Day in your blog and tell all your friends, including those on Facebook who you should invite to the event.
Embrace, Implement & Promote Web Standards
But even more important than the folly of Blue Beanie Day is the cause: web standards.
What Are Web Standards?
More specifically, the "holy grail" of web standards is:
- Valid (X)HTML and CSS
- Semantic markup and styles
- Separation of content/structure, presentation and behavior
- Works in any browser
All to help make web sites more accessible and usable.
But, It's 2008. Do We Even Need to Talk About It?
Just over a month ago, Opera announced results from its MAMA study, which found that only 4.13% of web sites crawled passed W3C validation.
And this is just validation. Who knows how many sites use
I do know that there isn't a single day I spend online that I don't see at least two sites that follow one or more of these non-standards practices.
Resources to Get You Started & Keep You Going
The web being what it is, there are oodles of free resources on practicing web standards. Here are a few I always recommend:
- Opera Web Standards Curriculum
- A List Apart
- Developing With Web Standards — Recommendations and best practices
- Web standards checklist
And here are some of my favorite books that promote web standards:
The Book That Changed My Life
But the ultimate resource on web standards is a book that (and I'm not exaggerating) changed my life: Designing With Web Standards.
Written by the hero to standardistas everywhere, Jeffrey Zeldman, this book is a must have for any web designer or developer (and the inspiration for Blue Beanie Day). It covers:
- Standards-based design (duh)
- Best practices
- Browser advances
- Search engine friendliness/findability
- CSS layouts
- And more
I hear Jeffrey is working on the 3rd edition, so it might be prudent to wait for that release.
Or you can check out a presentation I recently did on web standards.
Make Every Day a Blue Beanie Day
For me, every day is a Blue Beanie Day. I live and breathe web standards. I annoy my friends, family and colleagues with my "soapbox" ramblings about web standards. Web standards are always at the forefront of my mind when I take on any web-related project.
But it isn't just because I'm a standardista. I believe that talking and writing about standards is just as important as designing and developing sites that adhere to them.
Enthusiasm and passion are contagious. I'm happy to be a carrier monkey.
Balance Is Essential
That said, standards are a goal, not an absolute.
Given time and resource constraints — or, in my case, an employer who doesn't give a rat's ass about standards or accessibility — reaching the aforementioned "holy grail" of web standards isn't always possible.
And there are issues with some facets of web standards, including lack of browser support and slow specification timelines.
But these aren't reasons to not support web standards.
These are reasons to balance idealism with reality, all the while promoting and following web standards as much as possible so that someday this discussion won't be necessary.
Until that day, I'll be wearing a Blue Beanie.